I'm in sales and am having a bad sales week.
It started with a face-to-face meeting two days ago with a potential new client I assumed loved my offering. So I spoke too much, listened too little -- and by the time I caught the cues, time ran out to close a sale. The week got worse the following day when I learned I'd lost out on another piece of business I thought was a lock, to a competitor I didn't even know existed. That news left me queasy.
Every week can't be great, but bad ones are built on reasons. So I looked for some in the mirror. After erasing "you suck" graffiti that didn't come off easily, I found my answers and thought sharing them here might do some good.
Mistake number one. There were no substantive whiteboard reminders guiding my efforts this week. I am not talking about "to-dos" that start with, follow up with this person or that person -- but rather, a list of specific goals that, if met, solve clients' problems and move me closer to revenue. My whiteboard was practically naked of any real direction.
What does yours look like right now? Are there enough "to dos" written on it, and if so, are they circling around closing deals, or do they dig a direct path? And if by chance you are not tracking your efforts on a whiteboard, you now have a "to-do" to add to your list.
Mistake number two. Mistake two created mistake one. My whiteboard was empty because I didn't have enough to write about. I am currently in that window of time between finishing up delivering on services sold, and waiting to hear back on outstanding proposals. This time is so dangerous because my reliance on closing what's out there becomes much greater every day I am not cultivating new sales opportunities.
This "down time" will bring you down with it unless you have a plan to diligently identify new prospects for your sales pipeline when this window of time invariably arrives.
Mistake number three. This mistake is the most embarrassing. Coming off a wave of success, I got overconfident. This error is both blinding and fatal. It makes you appear arrogant -- and you are the only one who can't see that. To think I am better than anyone for any period of time is time spent lost in my own mind and a sure way of losing future business. I can be no better than anyone, because I have no control over anyone else's efforts -- just my own. I can, however, get better at earning my client's trust and can never lose sight that there are others who get up every morning to do the same exact thing.
The next time you find yourself thinking you are better than those you compete with, think deeper about why you are subconsciously sabotaging your own success.
Mistake number four. Sales efforts need to be quantified and tracked against realistic expectations. How many proposals do I have out in the market? How many meetings do I have scheduled and how many do I need to schedule? These are just a few examples of effort related events I can establish quantitative expectations for, and then track my course in meeting them. My error is that I am only tracking revenue booked and this myopic vision has led me astray.
Bad sales weeks come from daily mistakes. You can of course learn from these mistakes but first you need to find them. I hope airing my errors help you avoid some of your own.